Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Vince Staples is Bringing Back True Street Hip-Hop

For never having released an official album yet, Vince Staples has had a fairly large music career so far. Starting when he was only 16, Staples connected with Earl Sweatshirt on his infamous first mixtape, and stayed connected to Odd Future for a few years. He also formed a collective with Joey Fatts and Ashton Matthews, called Cutthroat Boyz. He's worked closely with TDE and Mac Miller, and has been featured by Jhene Aiko and Common. And today, he dropped his first ever for-sale project: Hell Can Wait.

The Long Beach native didn't really gain a lot of popularity until last year, with his Mac Miller-produced mixtape Stolen Youth. Earlier this year, Staples released Shyne Coldchain Vol. 2, which was produced mostly by No I.D. This was one of the best projects so far, and Staples just one-upped himself on Hell Can Wait. This is one of the realest rap projects released so far. Staples grew up poor, surrounded by and taking part in gangs. Staples raps viciously and frantically about these issues, and tells them truthfully. You aren't gonna hear boasts of nice cars or shout-outs to expensive clothing brands. You hear about fiends knocking on Staples's door begging for a fix, and hearing gun shots from his door steps, and threats thrown at rival gangs. Staples paints a vivid picture of Long Beach, surrounded by violent gangs, violent fiends, and violent police. He isn't making an album filled with radio-friendly hooks and choruses, but focuses on graphic story-telling with addictive production.

There isn't a single bad song on the seven-track EP. Whether is be the slow, creeping "Screen Door", the melodic "Limos", or the anthem-like "Feeling the Love", each song contains a hooking narrative and a catchy beat. For instance, on the song "Hands Up", Staples responds to recent police brutality with a poignant tribute to slain victims. At the same time, he blends in brooding production that makes you want to chant with Staples that "LAPD, no they ain't got shit!".

The only criticism I can give on this EP is that at times, Staples's voice can be a bit monotone. But his hurried pace matches well with the subjects and production on the EP, especially on "Blue Suede". I would also love to hear Staples collaborate with more artists, since his work on Nobody's Smiling was phenomenal. Staples raw street storytelling feels similar to Kendrick Lamar and Nas. Make sure you cop Hell Can Wait.

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